JOPLIN, Mo. —
Ever since she was a kid, Amber Baker has been drawn to anime. As a child, she was enchanted by the movie "My Neighbor Totoro," a story about a little girl who meets a spirit in a forest. As she went through high school, she used to sketch other Japanese animated characters.
Now, the art major from Missouri Southern State University teaches one of the more popular classes offered at Spiva Center for the Arts.
"Students usually come to my other job and ask me when the next class is," Baker said.
The class, held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, will teach techniques used in the Japanese style of animations. Baker said students will focus on how to draw an action pose while keeping proper proportions.
"You have to know proportions before you can draw action scenes," Baker said. "We've been studying front views, quarter turns and profiles, so now we'll focus on an action pose using all three of those views."
Students have also learned how to manipulate mannequins and base characters off of words.
Though "anime" usually refers to animated illustrations, the term is also used as a catchall for a form of Japanese art. Baker said anime was Japan's answer to Disney: Characters appear Anglicized with bigger eyes and brighter skin tones.
Parents may have already seen several examples of anime: If their kids watched "Pokemon," then they are more acquainted with anime than they are aware.
The art form is particularly popular with teens. "Fullmetal Alchemist," "Naruto," "One Piece," "Bleach" and "Alice in the Kingdom of Hearts" are all popular series.
The stories appear as animated features, called "anime," and in printed comic books, called "manga." Titles are frequently checked out at the Joplin Public Library, and the library's Anime Club is also popular. And titles are available in high school libraries across the region.
Baker said that the storylines in many anime series are identifiable with teens, because they take place in high schools. But many storylines reach across age lines, resonating with people of all ages, she said.